In commemoration of the destruction of the University Library of Louvain in 1914, the video Parzival (2013), created by Victor Burgin (°UK, 1941), will be screened in the University Library. This thirteen minute long piece consists of a montage of digital images of ruins and bombed out cities and audio-visual and literary material that references, amongst other works, Richard Wagner’s opera Parsifal (premiere in 1882), Roberto Rossellini’s film Germania anno zero (1948) and Milan Kundera’s novel Identity (1998). Parzival is inspired by the period of seven months that Wagner spent in Venice (1858-1859) and it raises questions about some of the most fundamental elements in his operatic work: the longing for a savior, the complex connection between violence and catharsis, the presentiment that destruction awaits humanity in the future (Götterdämmerung). In an associative manner, Parzival brings together various artistic and political features to confront the romantic ideal of the ruin with the horrors that might result from such a myth. Still, Burgin’s work movingly actualizes Parsifal’s promise of universal empathy (“wisdom through pity”) and it touches upon the intimate relation between human hope and the life of the child (Kundera: “It is because of the child that we attach ourselves to the world, take part in its turmoil, take its incurable stupidity seriously.”).
KU Leuven publication type:
Exhibition Room, Central Library location:Leuven date:22 october 2014-11 january 2015